NorthState Tech Lab Spotlight- Megan-Ilene

When Megan Lagueruela graduated from college in 2008, it was a tough time, of course, to be trying to land a job.  In the midst of a remarkable recession in the United States, and with the ink still fresh on her Fine Arts/Fashion & Fibers degree from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), Megan wasn’t 100% sure what she was going to do in terms of a career, as jobs in the arts were particularly hard to come by in that climate.

The “norm,” it seemed, for SCAD graduates with the same degree as Megan’s, was to head to New York City to go to work for a major fashion house.  This wasn’t what Megan had her eyes on for a few reasons, one of which being the extreme wastefulness that is often a byproduct of the designs and pieces created by these labels.  “Fashion is one of the most highly wasteful industries in existence,” she says.  “And I didn’t want to be a part of that culture.”

After a couple of fits and starts in more random jobs, Megan decided to go to work for her family’s company—Trinity Furniture—in Trinity, NC in 2010.  Her father Jorge helped start Trinity Furniture, and it seemed a natural move to join him.  It wasn’t exactly her area of expertise in some ways, but in terms of creating beautiful end products, Megan could certainly relate.

Megan worked at Trinity for nearly seven years, and while learning invaluable skills and lessons, she also was able to determine that furniture would not be her life’s work.  On the one hand, she says, it was hard to tell her father that it wasn’t going to be for her.  On the other, because of some major health issues her father had had over the years, she understood even more clearly that life is short and that passions must be true and pursued.  And her dad agreed with her.  Enter the creation of her very own clothing line: Megan-Ilene.

Megan-Ilene offers sustainable, biodegradable, zero waste fashion that is loose fitting, forgiving and largely unisex in style.  Working with a mostly “Made to Order” philosophy, Megan works with natural and recycled fibers and works any scrap pieces from designs into future styles.  Megan strives to create pieces that send nothing to landfills. All dyes used are either natural or low impact synthetic with a focus on low immersion techniques to prevent water waste and are safe for city water reclamation. “I strive to be as waste conscious as possible while still making pieces that are beautiful and well-made,” she says.

Largely available in small boutique settings on a mostly bicoastal scale (her largest boutique partner is in San Francisco), Megan has always had an online sales presence, but COVID-19 has made the need for that business even more substantial.  “I’m proud that all of the boutiques that carry my line are fairly small and local, and they are all women owned,” she says.  “But COVID-19 has hit retail hard—two of my partner boutiques have closed permanently—so having a stronger online sales stream is important.”

NorthState’s Tech Lab cohort was an appealing option for Megan because she knows that there is much to learn from others in the entrepreneurship space about how to effectively market her products, particularly to an online audience.  She knows that everyone involved in Tech Lab is trying to sell or promote different things, but that some of the foundational aspects of entrepreneurship are the same across the board.  “I want to do a much better job of promotion and specifically want to work on my website and overall visibility,” she says.  “I know that Tech Lab will offer great insights to those things and I am looking forward to the brainstorming and networking with other groups that it will offer.”

For more information on Megan-Ilene, visit megan-ilene.com.